ANI Photo | Haryana pip Bengal on penalties, to meet Manipur in final of Sr Women’s NFC for Rajmata Jijabai Trophy

Haryana beat hosts Bengal 4-3 on penalties in the second semi-final of the 28th Senior Women’s National Football Championship for Rajmata Jijabai Trophy at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Monday.
After a goalless 120 minutes, Haryana’s Shreya Hooda made a fine save, before Dular Marandi hit the post for Bengal to seal the result. Haryana are now through to their second consecutive Senior Women’s NFC final and will hope to better their runners-up finish from last year. Ravi Kumar Punia’s side will face Manipur in the final on May 15, who defeated defending champions Tamil Nadu 2-0 earlier on Monday. Sibani Devi and Bala Devi scored for Manipur.
The contest began in frenetic fashion, with attacks from both sides. Varshika’s goal-line block and a few good saves from India international Shreya Hooda prevented an early Bengal opener. Haryana mostly rallied forward on the wings, utilising their pacy wingers to build attacks from crosses and cutbacks.
However, their finishing let them down a bit in the first half. Senior India striker Renu and youth international Varshika each sent a header wide, while Neha hit the side netting, missing the bottom corner by a whisker. Sunita Munda also had a great chance for Bengal as a rebound fell kindly on her feet, but she could only shoot straight at Hooda from six yards out.
A different and more offensive Bengal side came out of the tunnel after the break. Haryana remained pegged back in their own half, while the hosts launched wave after wave of attacks. The best of the lot fell for skipper Sangita Basfore who fluffed her lines from just six yards out in the 61st minute, hitting the side-netting with just Hooda to beat.
The pendulum of momentum shifted once again as Haryana tried to get a foothold with some substitutions. In the 68th minute, Neha’s glancing header off Rajni Bala’s cross from the right went wide. Haryana crafted a similar move deep in added time as Bala, once again looking for Neha, swung in a cross, this time from her left foot. But goalkeeper Manju was alert and punched the cross away confidently.
The 30 minutes of extra time did not see as much goalmouth action and it remained scoreless with neither team creating any notable threat. From the penalty spot, Anay Bai, Shailja and Neha all converted for Haryana, while Poonam Sharma, Mugli Saren and Sangita Basfore did the same for Bengal. It remained 3-3 before Ngangom Anibala Devi saw her low shot to Hooda’s left saved by the Haryana custodian. Bengal got a chance to stay alive when Rajni Bala struck Haryana’s fourth penalty onto the crossbar. However, Dular Marandi was unable to capitalise for Bengal as she also hit the right post with Bengal’s fifth and final penalty.
Haryana will face Manipur in the final of the 28th Senior Women’s National Football Championship for Rajmata Jijabai Trophy at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, at 15:00 IST. The final will be streamed live on the Indian Football YouTube Channel.

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